Interviewing – what can I ask?

Hiring.  Some companies are planning to hire in 2011 and others are still “waiting to see how things go”.  Whichever situation you are in, knowing what you can ask and what you should not ask during an interview is important.  A good piece of advice from PEO Insider Magazine is to “avoid making a direct inquiry into an applicant’s membership in any protected category”.  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate against individuals based on Race, Color, Sex, Religion, and National Origin.  Since then, disability, age, veteran status and genetic information have been added as well to the list of federally recognized protected classes. 

So, what guidelines should you follow?  Here’s a quick list of a few Do’s and Don’ts for asking common questions and keeping you out of hot water.

Don’t Ask:
• If an employee has childcare
• Are they a United States citizen
• Where the employee is from
• If they are disabled
• Are they in the National Guard

Do Inquire:
• If required to work overtime or travel overnight, are you available?
• Are you able to give us proof of eligibility to work in the United States?
• Do you speak any other languages?
• Are you able to perform the job functions listed with or without accommodation?
• Do you think you will need any extended time off from work?

In addition, avoid asking questions around topics such as arrests, alcohol consumption,  home ownership, religious practices, political views, and physical characteristics such as height and weight.

Hiring employees based on their skills and the ability to do the job as detailed in your description and keeping your questions to relevant duties will help you to avoid discrimination claims. 

StaffScapes helps its clients review interview questions, draft job descriptions and provides guidance for the hiring process as a part of its services.  If you need help in any Human Resources related area, contact us today at 303-466-7864.